A messy piece of filk history

Covering the history of filk means reviewing some of its unpleasant parts. The most unpleasant was the breakup of Off Centaur Publications in the eighties. For those who don’t recall, it was a filk publishing business that raised recording standards and provided the first audio publication for some important filkers. It broke up in 1987; there was a lawsuit, a counter-suit, and a lot of lasting hostility. Most of what OCP published now has the status of “orphan works,” which no one can re-release because the copyright issues simply can’t be cleared.

I have to cover this, but I won’t touch the personal issues out of which it arose or the ones that resulted. I’ll deal with the goals of OCP, its role in advancing filk, the business reasons for its demise, legal actions that directly involved the business, copyright issues that linger, the relationship between OCP and Firebird Arts and Music, and the effect of those events on the Bayfilk convention. The personal issues are relevant to a full understanding, but I just don’t think it’s worth bringing them up in a publication at this date. I wasn’t there, and I couldn’t give the personal dimension a fair and adequate treatment in any case.

Since I want to be as fair as possible in the issues I do cover, yesterday I contacted Teri Lee, one of the three founders of OCP, through the Firebird site. Today I got a cordial reply from Frank Hayes, saying that she doesn’t want to say anything on the subject. He gave me a very brief account of the events, which agrees with what I already knew. While I would have liked to include her side, I can fully understand her wanting to put the issues behind her.

There are enough other sources that I’m able to assemble a factual account. Rick Weiss’s The Filking Times did a very good job of covering the events. With the help of the Internet Archive, I’ve found other sources of information. If you have information that you think I need and don’t already have, please let me know.

If you want to help me to complete and make a free publication of this history of filk, please support my IndieGoGo campaign and let others know about it.

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2 Responses to “A messy piece of filk history”

  1. Lastalda Says:

    The personal issues are relevant to a full understanding, but I just don’t think it’s worth bringing them up in a publication at this date.

    I understand that it’s probably impossible to cover the personal issues in an unbiased way. But it’s still sad, because a lot of the younger filkers (in which I include myself) keep hearing about “the Off-Centaur-mess” and would be interested in understanding it.
    But I’m glad your chapter will hopefully at least shed some light on this mystery.


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